Werner Herzog would make a great subject for a Werner Herzog documentary; the director is an adventurer of outsize ambitions and eccentric appetites. For four decades, he has examined and embodied one grand theme: a charismatic man is seized by some magnificent idea, and his pursuit often drives himself toward madness and those around him near despair. The protagonists of Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo are two such obsessives. In this decade Herzog found two other suitable subjects, who inspired two extraordinary films. One is Grizzly Man‘s Timothy Treadwell, who lived among wild bears in southern Alaska, recording their strange behavior, and his. The other is The White Diamond‘s Graham Dorrington, a London University aeronautical engineer who has built an airship he wants to pilot over the rainforest canopy in Guyana. “We can realize our dreams!” he exclaims. “Let’s go fly!” When Dorrington finally gets up in the air, the feeling is not only contagious, it is sacramental. Like James Cameron’s Avatar, Herzog’s hallucinatory docs prove that the most thrilling adventures are those that illuminate the beauty and the peril in man’s quest both to tame nature and become one with it.
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